Around the globe, June is traditionally celebrated as Pride month in the LGBT community. It is common for cities, large and small, to host parades, festivals, and other events to acknowledge the contributions of LGBT people and to let folks know about the supportive resources and organizations within the local community.
LGBT-friendly religious groups also take part in Pride celebrations, though having a Catholic presence in these events is a rare occurrence. Sometimes the presence of a Catholic group sparks controversy, as happened last week in Portland, Oregon, when a St. Andrew Parish marched in the city’s Pride parade, even though their archbishop told them not to do so.
On the east coast of the U.S., another Catholic parish also marched in its city’s Pride parade: St. Matthew’s in Baltimore, Maryland. The parish’s LGBT ministry was lauded by the LGBT community for their presence and leadership. The More Light Presbyterians website had these accolades for their Catholic friends:
When the Gay Pride parade kicked off in Baltimore on June 15, a number of faith communities were present – and Presbyterians were an important part of the event. Faith Presbyterian – one of the organizers of the effort – and Brown Memorial Park Avenue– were proudly marching behind the banner, FAITH COMMUNITIES OF BALTIMORE with PRIDE – as was First & St. Stephens United Church of Christ. But the largest number came
from St. Matthews Roman Catholic church – the real instigator of the effort. Long before we started actively recruiting walkers, St. Matthews had paid all the entry fees (Faith paid for the banner)! Their goal was to have 100 walkers – I think the final number was 115! Their enthusiasm was contagious as we planned the event. Their LEAD ministries – their program to welcome LGBTQ’s – is an important part of the life at St. Matthews – and fits well with Faith’s participation in MORE LIGHT Presbyterians. Faith and St. Matthews are long-time friends – both are active participants in the events of the Loch Raven (Blvd) Ministerium. In fact the two churches are planning to do anti-bullying workshops together in the fall. And we’re already talking about Gay Pride 2014!
In nearby Washington, DC, another Catholic community was also celebrated in their city’s Capital Pride Festival. Dignity/Washington, which marked 40 years of service last year, received the Festival’s “Larry Stansbury Award for Exemplary Contributions to Pride.” The Capital Pride Festival’s website details Dignity/Washington’s many contributions to the local community, particularly their contributions to Pride celebrations:
“Dignity/Washington has participated in every LGBT March on Washington. Dignity/Washington was one of the earliest organizations to take part in the local Pride celebrations and has been a Capital Pride participant for over three decades. Dignity/Washington became a Capital Pride Community Partner in 2007, even before the Capital Pride Alliance came into existence. In 2008, Dignity/Washington was one of the organizations that supported the decision to award the Capital Pride Alliance the right to produce the celebration. Dignity/Washington donated free space at the Dignity Center to the Capital Pride Alliance in the first few years after the Alliance came into existence. “
At their Pride liturgy, Dignity/Washington hosted Maryland State Delegate Heather Mizeur, a Catholic lesbian woman who is considering a run to become the state’s governor. Mizeur was instrumental in getting Maryland’s marriage equality law passed.
Congratulations to both St. Matthew Parish and Dignity/Washington for being recognized for their wonderful and important contributions!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry